Taking home a pet is a tremendous privilege, but it also carries with it a number of new responsibilities. These responsibilities vary from species to species, and from pet to pet, but whether they be cat or dog, or something more exotic, they all have one thing in common - you.
It's your responsibility to take care of your pet, be it physically, socially, or even mentally. Your pet depends on you for a happy and healthy life, and it can be a lot to manage! That's why it's so important to make sure you're ready to be a Pet Parent. To help you out, we'll discuss some of the basics of being a responsible Pet Parent, and what taking a pet home can entail. You can also check out our Mella Moment podcast, "Are You Ready to be a Pet Parent?" with Dr. Mira Tabet to learn even more!
Now for the basics. When getting a pet, it's important to make sure that you're not only wholly committed, but that you also have the resources to take care of them. It's key that you have:
Not every pet is the same. Some are quick to adjust, but others may need more time to get used to their new surroundings and family. Give them time to explore the space and get used to being around you. If you've ever felt overwhelmed from moving, or transitioning to the next phase of your life, imagine what it must be like for your pet! Be patient with them. Trust us, it will be worth it!
It's important to maintain a strong bond between pet and parent, and as such, you'll need to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to your pet. For dogs, the general consensus is that you need to dedicate a minimum of 1-2 hours each day, whether that be play, walking, social enrichment, etc. You also shouldn't leave a dog alone for more than 8 hours. If your work or other aspects of your life interfere with this, consider an animal that requires less social time, like a cat.
In order to keep your pet happy, it's necessary that they have the space to sleep, eat, and move around (and that's the bare minimum). Pets should also have plenty of space to play and be active, and you should provide toys or activities in their space that allow them to do so. For certain animals, such as dogs, it's also important that you have some sort of outdoor space where they can run around and just do dog things. Short of that, take them on lots of walks. Pets need space, and as their parent, it's up to you to provide it.
Obviously, pets themselves don't need money, but taking care of them can be a financial burden. The average cost of a pet, including food, care, etc., can be over $1,500 a year, and that varies by pet and by region. First-year-ownership can cost even more. Consider factors like your pet's breed and age. Certain breeds are more prone to health issues that can lead to costs down the road, and older pets are more likely to require vet visits and additional care. Whether you're buying a pet, or adopting, remember to consider the costs of being a responsible Pet Parent.
If you keep all of these factors in mind, and give your pets the attention and love they deserve, we have no doubt that you'll be a great Pet Parent! Remember, they're your responsibility, and it's up to you to ensure that they live long, happy, and healthy lives! Good luck!